NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — A West Hartford man was sentenced today in New Haven by U.S. District Judge Jeffrey Alker Meyer for filing false tax returns.
Judge Meyer sentenced Hai T. Le to 10 days in prison and three years of supervised release, and ordered him to perform 240 hours of community service and pay full restitution to the U.S. Treasury, according to United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut Deirdre M. Daly.
In court documents and statements made in court, Le prepared federal income tax returns for individuals in his community, many of whom were family or friends. When undertaking the tax return preparation, Le typically asked his clients to provide him their prior returns, purportedly so that Le could verify relevant information. Le prepared the current year return, but also made and kept copies of the prior returns. After certain clients received the current year refund, Le improperly used the prior returns to prepare false amended returns purportedly on behalf of his clients. The amended returns included false information, including unwarranted residential energy credits, education credits, and tuition and fees deductions, and incorrectly reflected that the taxpayer was entitled to an additional refund.
Unbeknownst to his clients, Le filed the amended returns with the Internal Revenue Service and included his own residence as the return address. In most cases, the IRS sent a refund check to the listed address. Le then endorsed his client’s name and his own on the reverse of the check to make it appear that the check had been signed over to him. He then deposited the check into one of his bank accounts and used the funds for living expenses and the purchase of a $50,000 Certificate of Deposit.
Between March 2010 and Aug. 2010, Le prepared and filed 28 fraudulent federal amended tax returns, utilizing his clients’ information without their knowledge in order to obtain a total of $138,826 in refunds. Six refunds totaling $32,752 were stopped prior to a check being issued, resulting in an initial actual loss to the IRS of $106,074. Le returned approximately $77,000 of the stolen monies when confronted by the IRS, and now owes the remainder with the ordered restitution.
On April 28, 2015, Le pleaded guilty to three counts of filing a false claim with the Internal Revenue Service.